The LGBT community faced a proud moment when, instead of street taunts, it turned out to be an enlightening and encouraging encounter. Theodore Vidal and Colin Beyers were one of many couples walking down the boardwalk following their first prom in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. This strip is typically known for being the primary setting of a popular reality series, Jersey Shore, and is a frequent hangout spot for young people who enjoy the nightlife.
The area is not particularly known for inclusivity, Michael Del Moro, an openly gay producer for Good Morning America stated online as he witnessed and live-Tweeted the entire scene. He describes his hometown as “a place where—not so long ago—young men would shout the word “f****t” out their car window as we’d stroll along the boardwalk.”
As the night’s events unfolded, Del Moro was pleasantly surprised. Accompanied by his mother, sister, and boyfriend, he watched the young boys closely after hearing a group of rowdy men shout “KISS HER!” from a rooftop bar to the passing high-schoolers. Once the group noticed they were males their screams quickly shifted to “KISS HIM!” instead. “After some hesitation, the young men kissed…and let me tell you: both the rooftop crew and everyone else on the boardwalk just went absolutely wild for them and we all breathed a sigh of relief,” he Tweeted.
The couple, discovered when a fellow classmate recognized the story through Twitter, revealed that although this was a moving experience, they’ve received a lot of hate because of their homosexuality in the past. “Machoism is such a thing here, so the fact that those guys cheered us on was shocking,” Beyers told Buzzfeed. “It’s one of those small victories that makes the hard times worth it.”
Negative incidents are common, according to Vidal, who has lived through many unimaginable and heart-wrenching situations. Classmates would ignore, bully, and attack him, while making horrible remarks, such as telling him to “end [his] life” and that “he didn’t belong here,” after he came out. “It was worse than I thought it would be. No one would talk to me. I was by myself for that whole freshman year,” he confided to Buzzfeed. “My mom was there for me but most people would avoid me. I was cordoned off. People followed me home and told me I shouldn’t be like this. I was so depressed.”
Fortunately, things are going well for the two lovebirds, who met as a result of their mutual admiration of music. Their love affair started over a year ago and grew as they were “making eyes at each other” for almost six months at the Eastern Wind Symphony, where they both frequently attended. However, as many millennial relationships begin, the romance finally materialized through Instagram. “I finally worked up the courage to DM him and we started talking from there. And I thought it wouldn’t work out because of the distance and we were so busy but here we are,” Beyers laughed.
Vidal sees this as an opportunity to help other teenagers going through similar hardships, and shares an important and personal message of encouragement. “You get one chance here and you need to stand out for who you are and believe in that even when people are picking on you,” he stresses, during his interview with Buzzfeed. “Find people who love you for you and don’t try to be anyone else. You are an amazing person. Look in the mirror every day and tell yourself you look good even when you feel you don’t.”
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